Protea women looking for a marked improved against Pakistan
South Africa and Pakistan will hope to deliver a much better standard of cricket in Saturday’s second One-Day International in Durban having both tried to lose the first one.
Shabnim Ismail, the player of the match, in Wednesday’s series opener, described the fielding as looking like “amateur cricket,” a description that could be used for other parts of that match too. That it got as close as it did - with South Africa winning by three runs - can’t mask the fact that it was a poor match.
Both teams are better than that and will take that first match - and the standard of play they both produced - as being down to the many weeks of inactivity for many of the players.
Saturday’s second match will see the Proteas clad in black to shine a spotlight on gender based violence which has been a scourge on South Africa. Beyond flimsy government platitudes, like the ‘16 days of activism,’campaign which has yielded little in terms of tangible outcomes, far too little is done to relieve women of the horror they have to endure at the hands of men in this country.
"Gender-based violence is a huge problem in South Africa and by doing this and through the clothing that we are going to wear it shows that we stand for what is right in our country," Ismail said. "Us taking this stand and showing what we believe through sport will hopefully tell the rest of the country and the world that it is a big problem for us."
Beyond the black outfit, the Proteas will also raise their fists after the national anthem is sung, hopefully not mimicking their male counterparts, who did the same after singing the anthem ahead of the first Test with Sri Lanka earlier this season, and botched the whole thing, by looking so uncoordinated and soulless.
In terms of the match itself, the Proteas will want improvement across the board. They need to play with far greater intensity with bat, something that can only happen through a good start, for which they are usually reliant on the big-hitting Lizelle Lee.
The fielding can only get better. They were timid, sluggish and reckless in that department on Wednesday and more than physical training, it will take a mental switch to show improvement in that department.
The bowling was one area that worked well with Ismael leading from the front with three wickets. She will become the fifth player to earn 100 ODI caps for South Africa on Saturday.
At the other end of the scale was left-arm spinner Nonkululeko Mlaba, who made her debut on Wednesday and finished with 1/19 in 10 overs, impressing everyone with her control.
A similar kind of control needs to extend to the rest of South Africa’s as they seek to wrap up the series on Saturday, a day on which they will celebrate one of their leading performers of the last decade, while putting a spotlight on an egregious social failure in the country.
The match starts at 10am.